Sure, it takes guts for a soprano to call an album THE BEAUTIFUL VOICE. But Renée Fleming did it, and the title fits. Fleming, a recognized performer with a wealth of talent, had the luxury of being allowed to program the music she loved--music as gratifying to sing as it is to hear.
With careful and varied support from Jeffrey Tate and the English Chamber Orchestra, Fleming's program is a wash of exquisite music, mostly about love: longing for lost love (in "Marietta's Lied"); first knowing love (in "Depuis le jour"); in youth (the "Jewel Song"); and in old age ("The last rose").
Fleming is at her best here in operatic selections in which the diva halts the action to tell a story, to dwell in a moment, or to draw her on- and off-stage audiences into the action. There is some well-trodden ground here, but long, flowing lines and sumptuous, floating high notes keep the program fresh. In a market glutted with artist-centered albums, THE BEAUTIFUL VOICE is a standout.